INTRODUCTION TO NEUROFEEDBACK

WHAT IS NEUROFEEDBACK?

Neurofeedback is EEG Biofeedback and is based on electrical brain activity, measured by the electroencephalogram (EEG). It trains the different functions of the brain directly and teaches the brain to function more effectively. This is a gradual learning process and applies to any aspect of the brain function that can be measured. Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation of the brain wave activities. Self-regulation training allows the central nervous system to function better. Activation, inhibition and cortical stability improve by changing the EEG and impact by regulating mechanisms.

What is Neurofeedback with Elizabeth HeferWHAT IS BIOFEEDBACK?

Biofeedback is a universal, natural, biological process. Biofeedback gives information about a body function eg breathing, muscle tension, heart rate and the level of sweat on the skin. These body functions are subject to the management of the central nervous system. An individual will learn to control body functions to a degree by using the biofeedback training program and teach the individual to stay relaxed. Biofeedback teaches you to use your mind to develop greater control over your body.

What is biofeedback with Elizabeth HeferNeurofeedback and Biofeedback training can be combined to reach an optimal state of learning and performance.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

A special EEG monitor and software are set up with a computer. Just as the doctor places a stethoscope on your chest to detect a heart beat, the neurofeedback trainer places electrodes on the scalp to record brain wave activity. The computer transforms those signals into graphics and sound. The action on the computer screen corresponds to the action in one’s brain directly beneath the sensors. You are given visual and/or auditory feedback, such as with a specially designed computer game. Regardless of the problem of goal, the results are the same: self-regulation skills are learned, greater mental and emotional control is achieved and nerve pathways are both exercised and strengthened.

HISTORY OF NEUROFEEDBACK

In the 1960’s dr Barry Sterman was training an experimental group of cats to increase Sensorimotor Rhythm (SMR). While he was doing his own research, NASA asked him to investigate the possibility that exposure to hydrazine (rocket fuel) was causing seizures in humans. Sterman began to his research with the same group of cats that are part of his SMR research project. When the experimental group of cats were exposed to hydrazine, they were much more resistant to seizures than ordinary cats. He discovered that the effect could be generalized to humans and the training had the same inhibitory effect. During the 1970 – 1990’s dr Joel Lubar applied Sterman’s techniques to children with Attention/Hyperactivity Disorder and demonstrated that hyperactivity/impulsiveness can be reduced and attention can be increased with SMR/Beta training.

THERAPEUTIC CONDITIONS THAT CAN BE TREATED

  • Addiction

  • Attention Deficit Disorder

  • Anxiety

  • Anger and rage

  • Autism

  • Biopolar Disorder

  • Brain Injuries

  • Chronic pain

  • Cognitive impairment (emotional and behavioural)

  • Conduct Disorder

  • Depression

  • Eating Disorder

  • Epilepsy

  • Learning Disabilities

  • Migraine

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Pre-Mentrual Syndrome

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Sleeping problems

  • Strokes

  • Tourette Syndrome, ect.

TESTING, EVALUATION AND TRAINING

Testing precedes training. Test that can be employed are tests of cognitive function, memory, attention, work pace, personality and a test battery for children with learning disabilities. The EEG can be measured with quantitative and statistical assessments. Test are re-administered after training to measure progress.

MINIMUM AGE FOR TRAINING

Researchers have worked with children as young as two and three years of age. These very compromised nervous systems are clearly able to respond to the challenge of training. Mostly, neurofeedback training starts at the age of five.

SUSTAINABILITY OF NEUROFEEDBACK

Dr Lubar at the University of Tennessee, William Sears and Lynda Thompson (1998) have undertaken long term studies and showed sustained carryover of improvement. Neurofeedback appears to produce permanent shifts in learning and behaviour. Neurofeedback training can compare with riding a bicycle. Once you can ride a bicycle, you can do that for as long as you want to.

NUMBER OF TRAINING SESSIONS

Noticeable results typical occur between the first and tenth session. In most cases therapists recommend a minimum of 30 sessions. The goal is to complete enough training to insure consistent and lasting benefits. Like piano lessons, a lot practice is needed. The brain is learning a new pattern and enough training should be done, for changes to become the dominant pattern.

NEUROFEEDBACK AND THE USE OF MEDICATION

Clients can use medication while they receive neurofeedback training. After a number of neurofeedback sessions, a reduction in medication is not unusual. It is well known that the EEG changes with medication and the EEG also changes during neurofeedback training. The brain becomes more activated during training and a regulated brain uses all substances more efficiently.

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